Every 7 seconds, a worker is injured on the job. These injuries, ranging from minor to severe, caused in estimated $161.5 billion in lost income and expenses. While in recent years the number of work-related incidents have declined year-over-year, there is still significant opportunity to further reduce their occurrence. The first step to prevention is awareness through education. The three leading causes of workplace injury are:
Overexertion accounts for 34% of all workplace injuries. This includes non-impact injuries resulting from the exertion of excessive physical effort such as lifting, lowering, pushing, holding, carrying, turning or throwing. It also includes repetitive motion injuries caused by frequent tasks that result in stress or strain on a particular part of the body. While you might assume that workplace injuries involve significant physical labor, the most common common job-related repetitive stress injuries involve the wrists, elbows and hands due to computer keyboard use. The best way to prevent overexertion at work is to take frequent, short breaks. If you sit at a desk, consider setting a reminder to stand up, stretch or take a walk for a few minutes every hour, even if it’s just to use the restroom or refill your water bottle. If you need to lift something, be sure you use your legs not your back, and avoid bending, reaching and twisting.
Contact with objects and equipment
Contact with objects and equipment is the second leading cause of workplace injuries accounting for 1 in 4 incidents. This includes:
- A worker being struck by a moving object
- A worker striking an object or piece of equipment such as bumping into, stepping on, kicking or being pushed or thrown onto an object
- Part or all of a worker’s body being squeezed, pinched, compressed or crushed in equipment, between two moving or stationary objects, or in a wire or rope
- A worker being stuck, caught or crushed by a collapsing structure, equipment or piece of material
- An injury resulting from friction between a worker and the source of injury
- An injury caused from vibration
These types of injuries are why there are often rules in place requiring employees to wear personal protective equipment like hard hats, gloves, safety glasses, ear plugs, closed-toe or steel-toe shoes, or reflective clothing. Other things you can do to reduce your risk of injury are to always be aware of your surroundings, particularly of moving equipment and objects in your work area, and make sure you store heavy objects close to the floor to prevent them from falling.
Slips, Falls and Trips
Slips, falls and trips are the cause of another 25% of work-related injuries. These may be slips and trips without falling, falling on the same level, or falling to a lower level such as from a collapsing structure or from an elevated surface like ladders, roofs or scaffolding. Though different from falls because this action is controlled and voluntary, injury resulting from jumping to a lower level also falls into this category. Ladders should always be placed on an even, solid surface, and in situations that require it you should also use a safety harness which can catch you in the event of a fall. Other forms of prevention include use of good housekeeping practices such as wet floor signs to warn of slippery surfaces and keeping the floor free of objects that can pose a tripping hazard.
Workplace injuries can happen to anyone at anytime, though some occupations do have a greater risk. The responsibility of workplace safety falls both on a company as well as each individual employee. Most work-related injuries can be prevented, but statistics prove that doesn’t mean accidents can’t still happen.
Contact South Shore Orthopedics
The team at South Shore Orthopedics specialize in supporting patients who have suffered from a work-related injury. We will evaluate your condition, recommend and provide treatment and make recommendations about when you may be able to return to work. For those involving a workers’ compensation case, we will complete all necessary paperwork and disability forms in a timely manner. If you or someone you love has been injured in the workplace, call (781) 337-5555 to schedule an appointment today–same day appointments may be available.